Can CBD help cancer patients? Studies are offering some hope.
Research into cannabis plants has revealed startling discoveries around their medicinal properties, which are received through chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is arguably the most exciting cannabinoid in terms of its medical use. From anxiety to epilepsy, CBD is proving to be a great complement to traditional health treatments.
But how does it stand up against diseases such as cancer?
Curing the various forms of cancer is the holy grail among medical researchers. And while a cure may be far off, new treatments for the disease are just as essential and are improving each decade.
Since CBD has been shown to remedy symptoms for ailments like epilepsy, asthma, and pain-related issues, it begs the question: can it also treat cancer?
Note that CBD does not produce the “high” that its famous counterpart THC does. Moreover, most CBD is derived from hemp plants, a form of cannabis that contains 0.3% THC or less.
What makes CBD unique is how it interacts with the body via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a natural system of receptors that bind with cannabinoids to help modulate physiological processes. Through these interactions, CBD acts as a potent anti-inflammatory.
So what evidence is there to suggest that CBD can treat cancer? Does CBD help with cancer?
When asking whether CBD helps with cancer, there are two things to consider: 1) whether CBD helps with the side effects of cancer treatment, or 2) whether CBD helps treat cancer directly.
CBD as a complement to cancer treatment.
In terms of CBD’s effectiveness as a supplementary remedy to cancer treatment, there is some evidence it can help. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy are known to produce side effects like nausea, pain, and general anxiety over the situation.
Clinical and anecdotal evidence has shown that CBD can reduce nausea, and its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce pain. A 2011 study analyzed how the ECS is involved in controlling nausea in animals. Its findings shed more light on the mechanism of chemotherapy-induced nausea and suggested that cannabinoids do help.
Furthermore, CBD is commonly used to remedy feelings of anxiety. Patients who are struggling with the mental health issues associated with cancer may find CBD useful.
CBD as a treatment for cancer.
Mounting evidence over the past decade is pointing to CBD as a potential treatment for cancer. Studies show that it may help reduce tumor size and increase the effectiveness of cancer drugs.
A study from 2019 published in PubMed focused on pancreatic cancer and how CBD can be used. Researchers found that CBD may help reduce tumor growth by stimulating the apoptosis, or “cell death,” mechanism in cancerous cells. However, they note that despite these findings, “data on the anticancer effectiveness of various cannabinoid formulations, treatment dosing, the precise mode of action, and clinical studies are lacking.”
Various studies going as far back as 2010 also support the idea that CBD helps reduce tumor growth in breast cancer, colon cancer, and bladder cancer by promoting apoptosis in cancerous cells.
While these studies seem promising, it is still far from conclusive whether CBD effectively treats cancer. If you have cancer, you should not stop traditional cancer treatments in favor of CBD. If anything, CBD may become a complementary addition to conventional cancer treatments.
Can CBD cure cancer?
An important thing to remember is that while there is strong evidence that CBD can help with the side effects of cancer treatment and may even reduce tumor growth, there is no evidence suggesting that it can cure cancer.
Until there is more research into cannabis and CBD, particularly concerning cancer, there is no reason to think that cannabinoids can cure cancer.
CBD Safety for cancer patients.
Although it can’t definitively treat or cure cancer, CBD is still considered safe to use in most situations. Not only are its adverse effects minimal, but it is virtually impossible to overdose on CBD.
Side effects of CBD can include:
- Mood changes
- Appetite loss
- Dry mouth
Still, if you have cancer and are considering taking CBD, you should consult your doctor to ensure there are no potential complications with other medications.
Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one CBD-based medication, Epidiolex, and it is used for epilepsy patients. There is also a CBD medication called Nabiximols, which is used for cancer-related pain, but it is only available in Canada and Europe.
CBD and cancer
The fight to control cancer may have a new ally with CBD. Public perception of cannabis and its various cannabinoids are becoming more positive, which allows for increased scientific scrutiny into their medicinal benefits.
Although the FDA has yet to approve a CBD-based cancer medication, past successes with epilepsy should open the doors for the possibility soon.
The evidence is promising for CBD’s role in treating cancer, and there’s still more to be understood. But there are also conflicting studies out there, so people must proceed with caution at this point. If you have cancer, do not stop your traditional treatments, and consult with your doctor before using CBD to complement your treatments.